As one is driving towards Machinjiri Township in Blantyre coming from the Limbe direction, you cannot miss the beehive of activities that characterises the small trading centre that is Makheta.
As you are approach the spot, you are bound to be greeted by a strange increased activity, with cars parked on either side, symbolic of a busy, full-fledged marketplace. During peak days, heavy human activity around the area starts from as early as 6am and only gets quieter after 8pm.
That is a typical day at a makeshift marketplace that has popularly become to be known as Manda a Mbuzi, originating from the goat meat barberque that has become the heartbeat of the economic activities taking place there.
It is not strange to see people from as far as Chilomoni, Manja, Ndirande, Bangwe and Kanjedza Townships at the place. For some, the roadside snack market provides a source of income and yet to others it is a place to socialise, meet old friends and network.
The history of the place dates as far back as around 1992 and has its origin attached to the abattoir that is next to the market place.
Ken Amidu, who sells goat meat within the abattoir told Society during a visit: “This market did not sprout by design. Initially people who were selling fresh meat inside here would want something little to chew for themselves.
“By and large, some of the customers would ask if they could get a piece or two from the little that we were preparing. Some individuals among us noted that the demand was getting high and started setting up ziwaya for purposes of selling fried meat.”
At the moment, 15 people are into the business, according to the market chairman Tiyanjane Matemba who has been in the trade since 2011. He says their peak days are mainly during weekends when they can sell five goats in a day. During week days, he says the maximum they sell is three goats.
“We only sell goat meat because it is acceptable by most people from different ethnic groups and religions. Our idea is to make the place acceptable and welcoming to at least a majority,” he says.
The meat business has given birth to some sprinter businesses as well. Non-alcoholic beverage and chips vendors are also benefitting from the lure of the fresh fresh goat meat. At the moment the place has 18 beverage and close 10 chips vendors.
Thirty-eight year old Chikondi Baluti started selling soft drinks, water and juices at the place since 2003. She says at first the market was inside the perimeter of the abattoir but they moved outside in 2006 after not that business was not thriving after construction of the fence.
Baluti says: “I have built a house through this business. I am able to send my two children and my younger sister to school from what I make here.”
Chips vendor Steven Elias, 30, says he has managed to build a house in his home village and acquiring a piece of land in the city where he also intends to build a house.
“We make sure that the relationship among us is cordial. Because we know that those who are coming to buy the meat will eventually buy a drink or chips as well. So for all this to be going on smoothly we make sure we operate as unit,” he says.
During our visit to the place, we bumped into Chilomoni-based businessman Jack Mavutula who was at the time enjoying his improvised lunch. He says in a week he makes sure he visits the place at least twice.
Mavutula says: “Minus the assurance that we will get fresh meat but the uniqueness of the name of the place is also another factor that attracts people. And when I am here I am assured that I will also meet my friends from elsewhere.”
Whether one is there to cure a hangover, get a crush breakfast or lunch but Manda a Mbuzi is setting a lasting legacy. But perhaps for all it is offering, the place which is in Chitupule Village in Traditional Authority Kapenican best be remembered for the economic difference it is making to a number households. n